||[Aug. 25th, 2015|06:04 am]
My niece decided to choose the Invisible Woman as her facebook icon and it made me think how much I've enjoyed the character over the years. Before i knew it I'd written a couple of pages about her. Marvel and DC comics have both blown up their universes for their annual summer events and the whole thing seems so over the top that it seems to mark and end point somehow. It's made me reflective about these little worlds I enjoyed so much. Anyhow, here's the essay. |
My favorite story with the Invisible Woman is a Spider-Man. I don’t know when or where it was issued, it was only later that I realized how much I enjoyed it. The story opens at the Daily Bugle. Peter Parker is hanging around between assignments. There’s going to be a charity event with the city’s elite and the paper needs to cover it. Their regular paparazzi is out sick so the editor grabs Peter and tells him to get his camera and get over there.
Peter goes home and puts on his best suit but still feels woefully underdressed when he arrives. But he dutifully works the event. He’s a little uneasy because he doesn’t like paparazzi and doing the stalker thing, but with his super speed and spider sense, which is essentially super intuition, he’s actually very good at it. He’s worried the paper will find out if he does too good a job and reassign him permanently. But he focuses on the task at hand, and decides to worry about that later.
The star of the event is Susan Richards, the Invisible Woman, founding member of the Fantastic Four and one of the rare superheroes without a secret identity. She seems completely at home in this world of wealth and privilege and is very much the grand dame. Peter follows her and gets a few pictures, but nothing that does her justice. She’s credited as being a great beauty and Peter is struck by this as he tracks her through his lens.
She is also an old friend. One of his oldest friends and he’s struck by the strangeness of this life he leads. He has to pretend he doesn’t know her because of his secret identity. She’s very busy as the star of the event and he has to hurry to keep up with her. He’s essentially stalking her, and he feels a growing sense of shame.
He can’t get a good shot, which is ridiculous because long ago Susan was poor and worked as a model to pay her way through college. She had been very, very successful and had only been hindered by the fact that she put her education first. So if he could just identify himself as an old friend, and ask her, then getting a good shot would simple. But of course he can’t do that because of his secret identity and so he winds up stalking her. He feels even more ashamed.
Too make it worse, he can tell that he’s making her uncomfortable. She’s very aware of her surroundings as a good superhero should be and is perfectly aware that he’s following her. He can tell because he’s fairly alert too.
Trouble breaks out as trouble always does. Everyone hides behind Susan because she’s a superhero and she gathers them in a safe place while fending off the bad guys. She’s very much the cool professional in charge because, well, she is. Peter tries to do his usual sneak off in the confusion and change into Spider-Man thing, but Susan’s in superhero mode and spots him trying to sneak off. She herds him back with the other civilians and when he tries it again, asks the group to keep an eye on him.
So he has to watch while she risks her life to protect him. It’s a tough fight too, and he’s dealing with this sense of wrongness about his whole secret identity issue, and asking himself what if she gets killed, and is he going to watch her die to protect his secret identity?
Finally there’s an explosion creating enough confusion for Peter to switch into costume. He jumps into the fight and Susan flashes him a smile. They settle into a quick routine (they’ve worked together a lot) and beat off the wave of bad guys easily. There’s a lull in the fighting and Susan turns to him and says, “Hey, you were at this party weren’t you?”
Peter tries to play dumb with the usual “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” and she looks over the crowd of civilians . She says she doesn’t see the photographer who kept trying to sneak off. She looks at Spider-Man and asks if she needs to go looking for him. Peter looks at the ground and mutters that the photographer is fine.
The attack surges in again but they’re ready for it and pound the bad guys mercilessly. The villains retreat in panic and the police arrive and take everyone back to safety. Peter takes advantage of the confusion and switches back. He starts photographing, much more comfortable since this is now a crime scene.
Susan is talking with the police about what happened and when she’s done she stops to pick up one of the energy weapons the bad guys were using and studies it. It’s a perfect shot, her in uniform looking thoughtful, framed against the smoke and flames. He takes the picture and she looks up at him and smiles.
Much, much, years later and in a different series, there was a scene that echoed some of this. At the outbreak of the Civil War event the Avengers hosted all the superheroes in their mansion to talk about whether they should comply with the Registration Act. Susan is talking up the Act explained how her life as a public superhero has worked out well. Spider-Man has some questions as he’s always been focused on his secret identity. They’re off by themselves talking with her calling him Spidey and he calling her Sue. Finally he says, “Actually Sue, its Peter.”
“Peter,” she says. She smiles and gives his shoulder a squeeze. “Peter, I like this Registration Act already.”
One last one, this one from long ago. They’re having a car chase, always problematic in Manhattan. Susan is at the wheel and Peter is crouched in the passenger seat grumbling that she’s driving too fast. Suddenly she yells at him to take the wheel. She jumps onto the hood of the car and stands there, engaging in a superpower shoot out with the bad guys.
Peter grabs the wheel and tries to control the car, but it swerves from side to side. Susan yells at him to drive straight, that he’s ruining her aim, but he keeps swerving. He makes it through one turn but loses control in a second one and crashes the car into a fire hydrant which shoots water all over them.
Sue is furious and demands to know where he learned to drive. Peter explains that the thing is, he really doesn’t know how to drive.
“Wow,” Susan says, “You really are a New Yorker.”